The dragon was about the size of a small St Bernard and covered with golden scales. He had two hind legs but his forearms ended with what could have been hands complete with opposable thumbs. His eyes where the most human thing about him, a crystal clear blue, like water in a mountain stream. When he opened his mouth, the first thing you saw were hundreds of needle-thin, razor-sharp teeth, and then a long, tapered tongue the color of raspberries.
His long, thin wings fluttered but not as fast as a hummingbird’s and his tail wagged back and forth with annoyance like a common house cat, and yet he was far more fierce than even the greatest feline predator in any jungle.
The source of his annoyance, actually it was more like trepidation, was the vision that had manifested before him. It was late on a Sunday morning. Landon had been helping Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon test the boy’s young friend Ana for potentially possessing a latent magical ability. To that end, they were using a story book that allowed the user to bring into reality any tale the book contained. The story they’d chosen was that of a cloud city.
The boy and girl disappeared. Buddy followed but too late. He made a truce with the Smoke Dragon who claimed the city as his own, and one dragon to another, he was told the children had invaded his sacred space and then when he chased them, fell into one of the multitude of portals in the city’s vast interdimensional nexus chamber. The Smoke Dragon said he wasn’t sure which one it was, but Buddy knew he was lying. Landon and Ana fell into the space between worlds, the endless expanse which contained all of the worlds of all of existence. It was also the realm of the dreaded Shadow Dragons.
Then Buddy was summoned to just outside the city. Here, it was as if he were enveloped in a great fog. The Smoke Dragon did not follow, probably because what left his property (if it really were his) did not interest him. There, out of the mists of time and space materialized Tarmreiboth the Dark Wizard and Zirge, eldest daughter of Xian, King of the Shadow Dragons.
“We have them, golden one.” Zirge was positively delighted with herself. “If you want them back, you’ll have to come to the Wizard’s dingy little world to collect them.”
“Dingy?” The Wizard turned to the black dragon ready to protest.
It looked like the Wizard and Zirge were about to get into an argument. Under other circumstances, that might have worked to Buddy’s advantage, but right now he didn’t have the time for it. He already knew what he was going to do.
“Buddy come. You wait. Buddy come soon.”
“Now, golden one. We want you now.” Tarmreiboth waved his scepter for emphasis while Zirge stamped her foot. Then the vision faded. The Ambrosial Dragon turned and went back into the Cloud City. The Smoke Dragon had created this mess and now he owed Buddy a favor and he was going to make sure Smoky paid up.
The Dark Wizard’s Shadow Warriors were as vicious as they were numerous, but they weren’t particularly bright. As the rushed out of the main gates of the Castle of Moaning Summit, the stuffed toy versions of Landon and Ana hid behind the massive left-hand gate. Being stuffed and not actual flesh and blood made them hard to track so unless one of the warriors looked directly at them, the two children were all but invisible to their magical senses.
As the shadowy hoard rushed out and then dispersed into the forest beyond, Landon grabbed Ana’s hand. “Come on. We’ve got to hurry.”
The duo ran around the door and then into the great opening, the Shadow Warriors having forgotten to close the gates behind them. Landon remembered the other occasions he had been there and shuddered inside. He’d nearly died here once and another time, he had almost become Tarmreiboth’s evil apprentice. Now they were dashing into the proverbial lion’s den and if his plan didn’t work, they’d be trapped inside.
Landon and Ana burst into the Wizard’s throne room which also doubled as his library of magical books. Ana stopped and stared. She’d never been in a library this big. All of the walls were lined floor to ceiling with shelves of ancient and mystic tomes and the throne room was three stories high.
“No time to get distracted Ana.” Landon looked like he was searching for something but Ana couldn’t tell what.
“You’re the one who looks distracted, Landon.”
“I saw it in the portal room at Cloud City but it’s invisible on this side.”
“The portal back. One of the gates there led into this room. I just have to find it.”
“Then hurry, Landon. If they come back and see us, we won’t be able to get away.”
As the boy frantically searched the room, waving his arms around trying to detect the dimensional gateway, they heard running footsteps rapidly coming closer.
“Oh no, Landon.”
Tarmreiboth and Zirge looked upward at the perpetually dark sky as something golden twinkled just above them.
“There he is, Zirge.” The Wizard pointed with his scepter. “I told you this would work.”
“Yes, and I’m glad I thought to have you send a contingent of your Warriors back into the castle in case those pesky children decided to hide there.”
“That was my idea.”
“No it wasn’t. It was mine, Wizard.”
“Wait. No arguments. Buddy will be landing in a minute. If he suspects we don’t have the children with us, he will resist.”
“What makes you think he will surrender without seeing them first?”
“A simple illusion spell, Zirge.”
“The Ambrosial Dragon is no fool, not like you are, Tarmreiboth. Such a spell won’t work with him.”
“Then what? He’ll land in a few seconds…wait!”
“What is it, Wizard.”
“My Shadow Warriors in the castle. They see the two whelps. The boy and girl will be our prisoners in mere seconds. We’ve won!”
With that, a fluttering of golden wings delivered their prize to them. “Buddy here. Buddy here. Where’s the kids?”
“They are my prisoners within my great hall. Accompany Zirge and me inside the castle and we’ll show you. Then you will surrender.”
“Prove it. Prove it.”
“Annoying pest,” spat out Zirge. Surrender immediately or the Wizard will order your precious little ones killed.”
“Go ahead. Go ahead.” Buddy’s head was nodding rapidly up and down.
“What?” Tarmreiboth couldn’t believe what he had just heard.
“Enough of this!” Zirge opened her mouth and eldritch flames of obsidian roared forth engulfing their prey. Seconds later, the Wizard and the Dark Dragon stood aghast. “What trickery is this?”
“I’m close. I know I am.” Landon knew he must be within a few feet of the gateway but then it was too late. Fifty Shadow Warriors arrived in the throne room and stared right at them. Their leader contacted Tarmreiboth though a communications spell informing him of their imminent capture.
Then just three feet to Landon’s right, there was a rush of air and Buddy soared into the room out of nowhere. Before the guards could sound an alarm, the bright dragon expelled a vast column of flame reducing the Warriors first to actual shadows and then to nothingness.
“Buddy!” Landon threw his arms around the dragon. “I’m so happy to see you.”
Ana was so relieved at being rescued, she hugged the dragon, too.
“Hurry, hurry! They not be fooled for long. I send powerful illusion spell of self into space between worlds. Wizard and Zirge thought it was me. They don’t anymore. Hurry.”
With that, Buddy used his wings to push Landon and Ana through the invisible gateway and once more they were back in the nexus chamber of Cloud City. A moment later, Buddy followed them.
“Outside,” Buddy commanded.
“But what about the Smoke Dragon, Buddy?” At that instant, the two children realized they weren’t stuffed toys anymore. Something about traveling between dimensions reverted them to their real forms.
“No danger from him so go. I have a plan.”
Long experience told Landon he could trust Buddy with anything, so he grabbed Ana’s hand again and they ran out the nearest open doorway with Buddy right behind. The Smoke Dragon towered over them terrifying both the kids. Then Buddy looked up and said, “You know what to do.”
“Right, Buddy. They won’t get out. Then we’re even.”
“Even Steven, Smoky.”
Buddy led the way out of the Cloud City and Landon called out to him, “What about Zirge and Tarmreiboth. Won’t they come through the gateway once they find out how you fooled them?”
“Smoky take care of it. You see. Now. Here we are. Time for spell.”
“What spell?” Ana asked and then they all vanished in a crackle of purple light.
Dragon, boy, and girl re-materialized inside Landon’s bedroom.
“Wow. That was fast,” Baby called out. “You guys weren’t gone very long.”
“Kids. Lunch is ready.” They could hear Grandpa calling from the kitchen.
Baby whispered to the two children, “He doesn’t even know you’ve been gone,” to which Landon replied, “Keep it that way.”
After lunch, Grandpa was playing with Landon’s little sister Dani in the backyard while Landon, Ana, and Buddy talked.
“So why didn’t the Wizard and Zirge come after us, Buddy?”
“Smoky fix it, fix it real good, Landon.”
“What do you mean, Buddy?”
“Easy, peasy, Ana. Smoky breathe smoke all into nexus room. Scrambled up all the gates. You come out one gate, you go into another. Can’t get into Cloud City. Travel one place to another forever and ever.”
“You mean when they come out of the portal, they’re automatically sent into another?”
“Yup, yup, yup.” Buddy vigorously shook his head up and down.
“But what if they accidentally go to a world with people, Buddy?”
“Most gates don’t, Ana and all gates to Earth closed by me. Plus, they don’t stop in one place long enough. Jump from one portal to the next and next and next like I said forever.”
“Wow, that’s pretty cool, Buddy. How did you make friends with the Smoke Dragon?”
“Not friends, Landon. We make deal. He owed me for pushing you into portal. He paid up. Now we’re even.”
“Does that mean we can’t go back to the Cloud City ever? I wanted to do some exploring.” Landon was feeling disappointed.
“We’ll see, we’ll see.”
“What about me, Buddy? Do I have magic inside me?”
“Fraid so, fraid so, Ana. Just a little but it will grow.”
“Does that mean she can become my apprentice, Buddy?”
“Oh, so Landon thinks he’s a Master now, eh? Ha, ha, ha. You grow up first, then maybe get an apprentice. I teach Ana.”
“But how, Buddy? You can teach me because we live together and Dad and Grandpa know all about you.”
“That’s right, Buddy. If my Mom, Dad, and brother ever found out about you, they’d totally freak.”
“Not worry, not worry. During play dates, time dilation spell makes lots of time out of a little. I teach inside that. Not even Gramps has to know. Not now anyway.”
“Wow. How cool is that? I’m going to learn magic.”
“Start next visit, next visit. Now you play. Relax. You’ve had busy adventure.”
The day wound down and Ana’s Mom came by to take her home. Grandpa made dinner and since tomorrow was a school holiday, he let Landon and Dani stay up and watch a little television.
Then it was bedtime and everyone went to sleep. Dad was working a late shift and wouldn’t be home until after midnight.
Landon was standing at the top of a long spiral staircase. He watched it circle round and round as it went down and down and it seemed to never end.
Everything was black. The walls were black, the floor and ceiling were black, the metal staircase was all black, and that made it hard to tell how big the room was or for that matter, where Landon was. Somehow he could still see but he couldn’t figure out where the dim light was coming from.
There wasn’t any doors so he didn’t know how he got there and he didn’t remember climbing up the stairs so maybe the only way out was to go down. He started walking, the sound of his shoes on the dark metal steps echoed around him.
He went down and down and down and he was utterly alone.
“Breakfast, Landon. Time to wake up.” Buddy’s eyes fluttered at the word “breakfast” and then he looked at Grandpa shaking the child. “Landon, why don’t you wake up?”
Buddy sat up suddenly and looked at the boy. “Oh no.”
“Oh no what, Buddy?” Grandpa turned to look at the dragon.
“Oh no spell, Gramps. Landon trapped in dreamtime, deep in dreamtime. Body here, soul someplace else, someplace I can’t see.
This is a direct sequel to the tale Trapped Between Dark and Darker. As you just read, Buddy, Landon, and Ana escaped the trap of Tarmreiboth the Dark Wizard and Zirge, daughter of the King of the Shadow Dragons. Now the two villains are endlessly being transported from dimension to dimension in all likelihood for all eternity, but Landon has a new problem. Somehow, he’s become trapped in dreamtime, an otherworldly realm that you can enter only when you’re asleep, and he has no idea how to get back out. This time Buddy doesn’t seem to know what to do either.
This was something the real-life Landon suggested to me a few weeks back so I thought I’d end this story using the idea as a cliffhanger. Now I’ll have to consult with my grandson to see what happens next.
Welcome to the latest entry in the series of adventures I’ve been writing for my grandson for almost a year-and-a-half now. To read the series from the beginning, go to The Day a Dragon Came to Live with Us. At the bottom of that story is a link to the next. Each subsequent story has a link to the next chapter, so all you have to do is keep reading and clicking and you’ll eventually get back here.